December 24, 2008

The politics of sorry and the apologetics of forgiveness

A former Vice President and current Malacanang occupant once said, "I am sorry", but she obviously didn't mean it.

A current Senator and Malacanang hopeful more recently said, "I am NOT sorry" and he obviously meant it.

A former President and icon of confused democracy more recently said, "I am sorry" or words to that effect, but no one knows for sure whether she meant it.

Another former President and convicted felon has never said "I am sorry" and he obviously means it.

I am not sure whether Gloria meant it when she said, "I am sorry" for cheating in the 2004 elections, for tainting the electoral process almost beyond repair, for foisting and inflicting Garci on us; but her subsequent actions clearly showed that she didn't mean it. She certainly wasn't sorry, she just said she was.

I am not sure if Mar meant it when he said he WASN'T sorry for lacing his diatribe against charter change with an expletive; at least, it showed me that Mar could show some spine and, forgive the sexist language, get some balls and stand up against those who were telling him to say "I am sorry." Like Gloria, however, his subsequent actions must show that he really meant that he wasn't sorry and that if it came down to getting a spine again, he would.

I am not sure what Cory meant when she apologized to Erap for her participation in EDSA Dos. Despite Dee Dee Siytangco's best spin and the loyalista coristas most fervent slants, it was clearly an apology. The spin now is that Cory was joking. Humor and Cory Aquino are not only strange bedfellows, they are practically enemies. Remember this was the Cory Aquino who took offense at Louie Beltran's mischievous turn of phrase "hiding under her bed" by even bringing reporters to Malacanang and her bed room to show that there was no place under her bed for her to hide. No, Cory is not about to embark on a Tina Fey routine and start becoming funny. It would be easier to pass a genuine land reform bill or kick Gloria out before Cory could even start becoming funny. So, like Gloria and Mar, her subsequent actions must show what she meant.

As for Erap, one thing you can say for him, when he believes in something, nothing sways him. He believes he was innocent despite the conviction for plunder, and he has continued the same refrain, so that it has almost become mantra-like. His subsequent actions have shown that he is unrepentant and that he continues and will continue to be the same Erap that got him convicted in the first place.

The apologies of Gloria and Cory and the non-apologies of Mar and Erap call to mind, to some extent, Matthew 21:28-32, or the "parable of the two sons" where the Father asks his two sons to go into the vineyard and work; the first says he will but doesn't and the second says he won't but does. Thus, Jesus asks, "which one did the father's will?" It is a fascinating meditation on change and the capacity to change; it is also a good reflection on integrity or meaning what one says or doing what one promises. At bottom, Jesus's question asks us to examine ourselves by asking, "which brother am I?"

Indeed, which brother am I? Will I do what I say or do what I actually meant to say?

The one thing that plagues this country, aside from Gloria and her cronies, is a lack of institutional integrity--when people do not do what they say or do not say what they mean. The problem with Gloria, apart from being Gloria, is that no one believes her anymore. The problem with Erap is that no one believes him anymore as well. The problem with Mar is that no one knows what to believe when it comes to him. The problem apparently now with Cory is that we also do not know what to believe.

As Christmas approaches in a few hours, I recall the one person who meant what He said and did what He said He would do--"I did not come to the world to condemn it but to save it." (John 3:17) And even as He hung from the cross, dying for our sins, the words that came out of His mouth were not words of apology but words of forgiveness--"Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34) They did not remain mere words but were actually deeds lived out.

Gloria, Cory, Mar and Erap and every trapo in the country should learn from the one whose birth we celebrate and whose name a great number of us claim as our own--Jesus, The Christ.

Merry Christmas!

November 13, 2008

No sophomore jinx

I raved about his first foray as Bond (click here) and did not really expect that he could top Casino Royale. But Daniel Craig has done it--come up with a Bond that's even better than his first time out in Casino Royale.

Despite the unwieldy title, "Quantum of Solace" comes across as one of the best Bond films made--ever, and it is largely because of Daniel Craig.

While Sean Connery is still the iconic Bond, Craig's Bond comes closest to what Ian Fleming wanted for Bond--a "blunt instrument." He has a license to kill (that's what 007 signifies) and he uses it, often in this film. Such is his propensity to kill that M (his Boss, the absolutely terrific Judi Dench) actually complains ("now if you would stop killing off all the suspects, we would get somewhere in this investigation.").

What I like about Craig's Bond films is that there is no Q; don't get me wrong, I love Q (the late Desmond Llewellyn) but special effects and gadgets detract from the characterization. Craig's Bond is a killing machine and he needs no gadgets to do it. The fight scenes in "Quantum" are almost identical to "Casino Royale"--rough, raw, dirty, real. Craig often walks around bloodied and dirty; his Bond gets scratched, kicked, bitten, punched and his Bond bleeds. Now, that's being real.

In both of Craig's Bond films thus far, the villains have been forgettable and I like that simply because the star is Bond; what I like about these two prequels, "Casino" and "Quantum" is that they reveal bits and pieces about Bond and his relationship with other people in his life--M, Felix Leiter, Tanner. In "Casino" he uses the now iconic "Bond. James Bond" for the first time; in "Quantum," the now famous and, yes, iconic, "Martini shaken, not stirred" is introduced to him.

In "Quantum" also, we get to see that the killing machine is human. After losing the love of his life, Vesper, in "Casino", Bond sets off to find her killers; M sees what Bond does not or does not want to see: that he is obsessed with Vesper's killers to the point that he is no longer thinking rationally. Bond never admits this till the end of the film. One thing more, however, is revealed as Bond sets off in his quest for Vesper's killers: his relationship with M, or at least this incarnation of M (all the other Ms were male, based on Flemings Admiral Sir Miles Messervy, thus the M), who is female. In an exchange, Bond reveals with a wistful smile that M considers him a son and that the reason why he was bent on pursuing Dominic Greene, the villain in this film, is that he (Greene) had ordered M killed.

Craig is a great actor; his stony face reveals much, ironically. His voice is a guttural grunt many times and even his funniest lines are delivered deadpan (almost Schwarzenneger-like). Yet, with the exception of Connery, who made and threw out the mold, Craig has managed to stamp this icon with a very distinct personality and his Bond will be remembered for a very long time.

This one's worth your money. Go watch it.

October 08, 2008

The First

"While victims of enforced disappearances are separated from the rest of the world behind secret walls, they are not separated from the constitutional protection of their basic rights. The constitution is an overarching sky that covers all in its protection. The case at bar involves the rights to life, liberty and security in the first petition for a writ of amparo filed before this Court."

Chief Justice Reynato Puno starts his Decision in Secretary of National Defense v. Manalo, G.R. No. 180906 in this way. Read the decision here.

It's a petition that was first filed as a prohibition suit which later, after the Rule on the Writ of Amparo was passed, became an amparo petition--the very first in the Supreme Court and the very first in the Court of Appeals.

I'm proud to have been part of the team that litigated this. Kudos to Bombi Sunga, FLAG Deputy Coordinator for Metro Manila for first taking this case on, when the Manalo Brothers disappeared and litigating this issue before the CA as a habeas corpus case and to Jose Manuel Diokno, FLAG National Chair, for shepherding us through this case. Also to Cookie Diokno, FLAG Secretary General, for the great staff support.

October 02, 2008

Septembers at Taft

You will recognize an old-er lawyer when s/he invariably shakes his/her head at the organized chaos that is the Bar Ops and mutters soto voce but almost enviously, "we never had this before."

For one that prides itself on not being bar-oriented, UP has jumped wholeheartedly on to the bandwagon that is the Bar Ops. While there are many mixed feelings about this from all quarters, one thing must be said about it: there is value to having an entire institution come out in support of you as you walk along Taft for four (4) Sundays in September.

So, it must be said, and I'll say it here: Congratulations to Arianne Reyes and her team for this year's bar ops; quite aptly called, simply, "100% UP LAW."

When the phrase ("100% UP Law") first came to my mind after 2007's bar ops, I gathered Lobit and PY and pitched it to them, both agreed with the concept; when I asked for names to head bar ops, many came up but one name was common to all three of us: Arianne's. And so it came to pass that before she was even elected VP of the UP LSG, she was already de facto the bar ops head.

I've been to many bar ops but I think this year was one of the best organized (at least from my point of view); it also enjoyed, for once, institutional support coming from no less than the Dean who, after being pleasantly surprised to see the organized chaos that was Bar Ops during the second Saturday, pleasantly surprised the volunteers and the examinees by showing up every Saturday and Sunday thereafter and even getting a room at the hotel to ensure that he would be on the first bus to Taft. (I think more than anything also, the Dean ensured that this year's bar ops would be unforgettable because he not only stood through two masses, but even actively participated in one of them.)

The bar ops this year has led to many epiphanies for many people. This year's experience, for instance, has shown the Dean just how important it is to the examinees that they get the support of the law school and not only the perception of support; and so it will be that next year's effort will build on this and previous year's efforts. Already, plans are underway for more concerted efforts towards hitting the 100% that was the call for this year but is part of the Dean's program for his term. Even now, as September has just ended, preparations are in earnest for next year, with hopes that these will become institutional muscle memory in a law school that must see itself as not just in its many traditions, not just in its many memories but also in the many lives that it encounters.

I do not know all the names involved in Arianne's team and so I will not attempt to list them down for fear that I will forget one. I will just leave to Arianne the task of disseminating my regard and esteem for this year's bar ops leaders, core team and volunteers. Job well done, all!

Septembers, for lawyers and law students, will always bring memories of that rite of passage known as the Bar. Until next September then . . .

Taking the Bar and Trying Cases

Here's something I wrote in my other blog.

September 24, 2008

Actively Indifferent to all but to God

Proverbs 30:7-9 (RSV)-

"Two things I ask of thee;
deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny thee, and say, 'Who is the Lord?'
or lest I be poor, and steal, and profane the name of my God."

September 01, 2008

4, not 1

Because of Ely's heart attack, most of the focus has been on him. Understandable but not entirely fair because the Eraserheads is a four-man act. 4, not 1.

And so, before I shut up about the 'Heads, I just have to say that the 15-song set would not have rocked as much had not Raimund, Buddy and Marcus played their hearts out as well. They have definitely matured as instrumentalists, given the years they were together as the 'Heads and the years after when each of the 4 put up their own bands (Raimund's feat must be cited simply because he has three bands all at the same time, not one after the other). Clearly, they all worked out simply to be able to sustain the energy level needed to keep on playing, song after song--never mind that they did not even talk to each other and had even minimal eye contact.

The 'Heads sounded great not simply because Ely sang his heart out but also because Marcus, Buddy, and Raimund played their hearts out as well.

Marcus, Buddy at Raimund, maraming salamat; binigyan nyo uli kami ng ligaya, kahit na panandalian lamang. Mabuhay kayo!

Ok, I'll shut up now.

August 31, 2008

The Stunned Silence

I agree with Angelo in his blog post--if the news that there would be no second set had happened in any other concert with any other group, there would have been blood--literally. I agree with the respect, the love, the crowd had for the group, and for Ely.

I was so amazed at how the multitude took the news that Ely was rushed to the hospital and would not be coming back on stage that night. There was a stunned silence. No boos, no hisses, no shouts for refund, no screams of harang (fraud). Just a stunned, and later a prayerful, silence.

While the ending was anticlimactic (because there were just too many songs they had yet to play; so many personal favorites they were saving for last), it was just so rock and roll. I mentioned to someone that they could not have scripted it better--except that it wasn't scripted. In this case, life pre-empted art and added infinitely more spice.


I was asked why I didn't write a review of the concert (what concert? where have you been hiding?). I answered, I am too much a fan to write a fair review.

But if you insist on a review, look at the title of this post.

If still not satisfied, pick up a thesaurus and go to "spectacular", "amazing", "awesome", "magnificent", "excellent" and write down all the synonyms (spaces are optional).

If you still want more, I'll use Raimund's word, "cooking!"

As a final word, Ely's-- "nakakatindig balahibo."

Now, for that UP centennial eraserheads reunion concert. . . . kulang talaga pag wala sila at bitin naman yung isa.

The Green Tag

This is the tag I got that entitled me to a spot of earth--there were no seats anywhere--at the open field of The Fort, VIP section.

Before my ego could inflate, I noticed that there was another section, SVIP, and because there was nothing to indicate what S meant, we speculated that it was "Special" or "Spectacular. That led us to wondering whether there was another SMVIP or "Super Mega VIP" section. I must say though that, had I paid for my ticket, it would have been worth every Peso.

August 30, 2008

Ely's unfinished symphonies

It was the one everyone was waiting for. It took ages to organize and it seemed like ages before we got in and even longer before the concert started. But when it did--with the fab four appearing seemingly from thin air--with Alapaap, the decibel level at the open field went from deafening to ear-drum shattering.

Raimund was right--the band was cooking. They sounded better than ever. Ely's voice was strong, Raimund pounded the skins and kept the beat steady;Marcus was the taciturn axeman and Buddy was the smiling rhythm keeper.

For about an hour and fifteen songs deep, it looked like this was going down in history as among the best concerts and the reunion that did not disappoint until the last song.

Going into the last few notes, it seemed something was off; then Ely sat down as the song ended. A 20-minute intermission was announced and everyone started rattling off songs they expected to be played during the second set--El Bimbo, Overdrive, Julie tearjerky, Pare Ko, Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka,among many others.

When the 20 minutes became about 30, people started getting restless and then the three appeared onstage, with a woman and several others.That's when Buddy introduced Ely's sister who broke the news-- Ely would not come out anymore, he had to be rushed to the hospital. Amidst a stunned silence,and people half hoping it was a joke, Raimund confirmed it and introduced the organizer who also confirmed it, asked for calm and order and asked for a one minute prayer in silence.

Then it sank in.It was over.

The reunion no one thought would ever happen happened, but was over--in one hour. Ely would not come out for the second set. People, in silence, started shuffling out in disbelief.

While walking to the parking area, we could hear cars with speakers blaring the songs of the 'Heads,as if in tribute and thanksgiving to the band that made a great difference in pop culture and influenced a whole new generation of musicians.

Part of me was hoping it was a joke but when Buddy and Raimund confirmed it, I knew it wasn't.

As Jam said in his post, maybe it was fatigue, maybe it was emotions,maybe it was grief at the loss of a loved one(his mother passed away on Thursday),but Ely Buendia, he of the pop hooks and the astonishingly intuitive and perceptive lyrics, played his heart out tonight. And even if that heart was probably broken, it didn't show.

Many of us were screaming "group hug"to the four who were obviously not talking to each other; they did not oblige. But when the news of Ely's condition came, the remaining three took the stage as one. It was like the group hug that never was.

Ely, get well soon. If tonight has shown one thing: it is that the 'Heads still make a difference and that the four of you are loved. I know because my ears are still ringing and my hands are still sore. Get well soon, there are unfinished symphonies yet to be played.

August 12, 2008

new blog

I decided to make life more interesting by putting up a new blog (in addition to this one on blogspot, Vincula on multiply, The Grand Manner also on blogspot) which will be dedicated to two things I love doing--teaching and trying cases.

The new blog is called Vinculum Juris ( which can be accessed by clicking here.

Will try to make it current and interesting, within the time that work allows.

Do drop by and spread the word.

August 10, 2008

para kay skaterboy

maraming salamat at pinaunlakan mo ako. maraming salamat sa mga binigay mong "tips" kung ano ang daan para masakatuparan ang ating parehong minimithi--na kayo'y magsama sama uli para sa peyups. hayaan mo't pinagsisikapan kong mapaabot ang mensahe sa tatlo--sana naman ay pumayag sila.

July 27, 2008

Para sa Masa?

Para kay Marcus, Raimund, Buddy at Ely,

Hindi ninyo ako kilala at hindi tayo kailanman nagkita o pinakilala. Hayaan ninyong ako'y magpapakilala. Ako si Ted, isang masugid na tagahanga ng inyong banda. Hindi kalabisang sabihin ko dito na isa kayo sa kinikilala kong malaki ang impluwensya sa musikang pinipili kong pakinggan at sa mga Pilipinong bandang sinusundan.

Hindi pa kayo kasing sikat at kasing galing ay narinig ko na kayong tumugtog; sa mga gigs, maliit at malaki. At ako'y napahanga, unang una, sa tindi ng pag-unawa ninyo sa diwa, kaisipan at sikolohiya ng pangkaraniwang masang pilipino, at mas higit pa dito ang pangkaraniwang masang pilipinong estudyante. Maraming mas malupit tumugtog ng gitara, baho at tambol; mas maraming mas maganda ang boses. Ngunit, sadyang bukod tangi at di pangkaraniwan ang pagsasama ninyong apat dahil, unang una, sa lalim ng pagkakaibigan ninyo at, pangalawa, sa lalim at tingkad ng pag-unawa ninyo sa mga iniisip ng kapwa ninyong pilipinong estudyante at kabataan; sumunod na lamang ang pagiging bihasa sa pagkanta, pagitara, pagbaho at pagtambol.

Alam kong sasabihin ninyong hindi ninyo pinlano na maging "role model" at tingalain ng mga kabataan, at ng masang pilipinong naki kanta sa inyo mula pa noong 1989.
Ninanais nyo man o hindi, nung nag-umpisa kayo sa UP, naging modelo kayo para sa mga kabataan na ninanais lamang tumugtog, kumanta at ipadama ang saloobin sa lingwahe na natatangi at di-mapagkailang sariling sarili. Nasa plano nyo man o hindi, tiningala kayo ng mga kabataan, mga dati'y kabataan at, oo, ng masa. Silang bumili ng inyong mga plaka, kaset, cd at tumugtog, kumanta at nakimura sa sinensor na "Pare ko."

Kung hayaan ninyo akong magyabang ng bahagya, yan naman ang galing UP. Sa bawa't gawain, nagiging bukod-tangi. At, oo, kinikilala din kayo na bukod-tanging bandang peyups na peyups.

Ngayo'y magtitipon tipon uli kayo. Sa Agosto 30 daw. Ngunit, one night only at 45 minutes lang daw. At, ang malupit, ang isponsor ninyo ay ang gumagawa ng yosi--Marlboro, Philip Morris. At eto pa ang mas malupit, bawal ang pag-iisponsor nila sa inyo. Maniwala kayo, nagtanong ako sa abogado.

Alam ko namang hindi ko papel ang pigilan kayong tanggapin ang perang ibinigay na ng Marlboro at Philip Morris. Kung ako lang ang may pera, siguro higit pa sa diumano'y 2.5 Million bawa't isa ang ibabayad ko sa inyo (huwag kayong mag-alala sa BIR, may matitinik akong mga "tax lawyers" na kakilala); pero wala akong ganyang pera at hindi ko kayang pigilan ang pagsasama sama ninyo uli dahil sa "Marlboro country."

Isa na lamang ang pakiusap ko: maaari kayang kayong magsasama uli, BAGO mag Agosto 30, sa Sunken Garden ng UP Diliman; sana'y wala nang Marlboro, Fortune, Philip Morris o kung sinomang gumagawa ng yosi ang magpakana, sana'y sa inyo na lamang ang kusa. Tutal, sentenaryo ng Peyups sa 2008 at kulang pag wala kayo. Isang gabi lang ang pakiusap.

Sana'y magsasama uli kayo at muling kantahin ang mga dati nang naging themesong ng marami; baka maaaring kantahin uli ang "Pare Ko" kahit na may kasamang pagmumura, at baka maaaring matapos sa "UP Ang Galing Mo!" at sa "UP Naming Mahal" (na sana'y walang pagmumura).

Wala kaming maaaring ibayad sa inyo kundi ang aming taos-pusong pasasalamat na minsan sa taon ng sentenaryo ng Peyups ay nagsasama muli ang pinakadakila, pinakatanyag, pinakamalupit at pinakahinahangang Eraserheads--at hindi dahil sa sigarilyo.

Maraming salamat at lubos na gumagalang,

PS. Lubhang napakaganda ng kanta ninyong "Para sa Masa". Eto ang sinabi ninyo noon, nawa'y maging totoo uli ngayon:

Para sa Masa

Ito ay para sa mga masa
Sa lahat ng nawalan ng pag-asa
Sa lahat ng aming nakasama
Sa lahat ng hirap at pagdurusa
Na-aalala niyo pa ba
Binigyan namin kayo ng ligaya

Ilang taon na rin ang lumipas
Mga kulay ng mundo ay kumupas
Marami na rin ang mga pagbabago
Di maiiwasan 'pagkat tayo ay tao lamang
Mapapatawad mo ba ako
Kung hindi ko sinunod ang gusto mo

La la la la, la la la la....
La la la la, la la la...
La la la la, la la la la....
La la la la, la la la...

Pinilit kong iahon ka
Ngunit ayaw mo namang sumama

Ito ay para sa mga masa
Sa lahat ng binaon ng sistema
Sa lahat ng aming nakabarkada
Sa lahat ng mahilig sa labsong at drama
Sa lahat ng di marunong bumasa
Sa lahat ng may problema sa skwela
Sa lahat ng fans ni Sharon Cuneta
Sa lahat ng may problema sa pera
Sa lahat ng masa (sa lahat ng masa)
Sa lahat ng masa (sa lahat ng masa)
Sa lahat ng masa (sa lahat ng masa)
Sa lahat ng masa (sa lahat ng masa)

Huwag mong hayaang ganito
Bigyan ang sarili ng respeto

La la la la, la la la la...
La la la la, la la la...

June 27, 2008


You just cannot buy class.

Top Dog of the country's biggest Kennel, Prospero Nograles, may be decked out in Armani suits or what have you, shod in top leather, wearing expensive glasses, with expensive cologne oozing out of every pore, but he just has no class whatsoever.

In response to the clamor for Gloria Arroyo to cut short her U.S. trip because of the severe damage inflicted by typhoon "Frank", he is said to have texted to those who were asking that Gloria Arroyo cut her trip short because of typhoon "Frank" that Gloria's US trip had long been scheduled and that typhoon "Frank" didn't have a scheduled arrival date.

This, from the person 4th in the line of succession.

All the money in the world cannot buy him decency, cannot buy him sensitivity, cannot hide the lack of breeding and the crassness that screams out of every pore of his being.

I am saddened that he is from the city I was born in--Davao; and, for once, I am ashamed to be associated with Davao.

There is no english word to describe him. The filipino word for it, however, is the most apt: Bastos.

Ang bastos dapat binabastos din.

June 21, 2008

Reality kicks in

"The Board of Regents, at its 1233rd meeting held today, approved the appointment of Prof. Theodore O. Te as Vice President for Legal Affairs effective 23 June 2008 to serve at the pleasure of the President."

It is now official.

So, I "officially" went to the Office of Legal Services (OLS), its current name until it can be changed to Office of the Vice President for Legal Affairs (OVPLA) at the third floor of U.P. Diliman's Quezon Hall yesterday for a send off for MVFL, now dean of the law school, and a welcome for me. Flying in from an overnight trip to Cebu with barely 3 hours of sleep, attending an execom meeting at the College, teaching my evidence class and driving over to OVPLA for the reception, I was in no condition tor respond as graciously as I wanted to the kind treatment they gave me. I'm not even sure my response was comprehensible, I hope I made sense and I hope they didn't mind too much even if I didn't.

On the 100th year of UP, I became one of its Vice Presidents--something I never thought would ever happen.

One thing kept running through my mind yesterday, for reality, this is really surreal.

June 06, 2008

it is finished... term as OLA director, that is.

I took over in December 2005 and officially turned the directorship over to my replacement earlier today. I had been in denial for some time that this day would come but I am no longer in denial--as the reality of moving out of room 105 is slowly sinking in, with each box of documents and personal stuff being transferred out of room 105 and to my faculty room in the second floor. No, I'm no longer in denial, but I'm officially in withdrawal.

I know I will miss being in this office especially the view from the small window behind my chair of the sunken garden where people playing football bring me back to a much simpler time; I know I will miss the interns who, semester after semester, enter OLA totally terrified and unaware of one end of the pleading from another and somehow emerge from the experience having learned a bit more than what they had bargained for; I know I will miss the four-member staff who, despite very little pay, choose to slug it out at OLA; I know I will miss correcting pleadings, scrawling my comments in green all over the freshly printed page; I know I will miss the case cons--at that nice long, newly varnished table outside the Director's office where little by little, the law becomes less and less a mystery to the interns.

I had a nice dinner (though my steak wasn't rare and there was no blood at all on the steak; it was still all good) with the last group of interns that I will officially handle, Team 4-SIP; though not all were able to join, it was still a nice way to end the summer and my term--just talking (not shop talk), laughing, and enjoying the company of people who had started the summer virtually strangers but had come out of the summer experience all the richer in friendship. Maraming salamat Migs, Bridget, Kate, Kai, Toff, Janette, Jess, Cathe (and Vince) and Tere for the great summer.

I will move to the center of UP soon, Quezon Hall, to a 3rd floor office which gives me a peculiar view of the auditorium behind Quezon Hall and where, if I walk along the corridor, I get to see Oble in a totally different light. Perhaps, that is where I am being led to and that is why I am being led here-- to see Quezon Hall peculiarly and to see Oble in a totally different light. I know that the God who has led me here will faithfully finish His work through me and I can only pray that I prove equal to the task and to the service.

In the meantime, I will enjoy my withdrawal--before reality sinks in.

June 03, 2008

"i don't know what" in french

Hadn't heard this in some time but was surprised to hear this the other day in casual conversation -- "je ne sais quoi" (it sounds phonetically to the un-french like "june se kwa"). I had to stop and ask the person I was talking to, "are you french?" to which he answered, "no, but I picked that up in a book I read."

When pressed if he knew what it meant, he said (correctly, although I don't know if he knew he was correct), "I don't know." Whether or not he knew it, that was the correct meaning of the phrase. I just smiled and didn't press the issue.

It means "I don't know what" or an undefinable not necessarily absent something; in a phrase that is more familiar, it's like an "x-factor." To use a trite example, "that person has a certain je ne sais quoi." (Sounds like something the writers of "pit and pab" , hosted by Tere, could pick up and work into their spiels, he he he)

It just struck me that we use so many words and cliches that we don't really know the meaning to but by oral tradition, we've become so used to them. Law students are no exception; they love to toss around huge and profound sounding terms that don't necessarily mean huge and profound things. Many times really, simple is just better.

In the meantime, could you, as a prefatory matter, indulge me by passing the certiorari to alleviate the conundrum that I am in?

May 27, 2008

Life Lessons Learned, Grandly

(A send-off to UP Law Batch 2007-2008, taught in the grand manner, and hopefully to become great lawyers and even greater Filipinos)
[NB. Supposed to come out in their Annual, Memorandum '08; first time, the OLA director's been asked to write something there.]

While I was still a student at Malcolm Hall, I heard someone say, “you don’t have to love the law to serve the people, but you do have to love the people. That got me thinking.

I did not love the law then—there was very little about it that I could love; it was (and still is) written in archaic language and embodied concepts that were, to my mind, not directly relevant and even, to some extent, greatly oppressive to the people I aspired to serve. I did love the people I aspired to serve—then as a paralegal and later as a lawyer. It came to a point that I was in despair that I was going to be a lawyer because I felt, then, that lawyering would be useless as the law I did not love had very little relevance in the lives of the people I did love.

Of course, I later did become a lawyer and a law professor—helping to train litigators and form advocates; struggling to instill character and inculcate values; trying mightily to witness to batch upon batch of wide-eyed and idealistic law students the scarred beauty of the law and the limited justice it could render; always, conscious of my role to help each batch passing through Malcolm’s portals understand that the law is but one of the many things a lawyer can use to truly help.

Each year, I look at the graduates and wonder, “did these streams rise higher than the source? This year, I take a look at you, Batch 2007-2008 and ask myself the same question- have these lives, these hearts, these souls, been transformed, changed, inspired and moved to become great lawyers and even greater persons?

I have seen many of you learn valuable life lessons in the year you were at OLA in the many instances of helplessness when you just had nothing to file or argue to help your clients, or nothing left; in the many instances when you held back tears as you empathized with the poverty of resources of the many lives who walk in through Malcolm’s Room 107; in the many instances when clenched fists and whoops of joy were the order of the day as unexpected surprises and wins came our way; in the many instances when you just shook your head in awe at the reality that the cases you simply read before were coming alive before your very eyes. Two semesters is not a lifetime but for all the lessons you have encountered, it might as well have been.

I have seen how, despite the many frustrations and the few joys, many of you marched on with great passion, heedless of the obstacles in your way, mindful only of the rare opportunity you had to show that while you may not love the law you are studying, you love the people you are serving.

All these gives me the confidence to boldly hope that, from your ranks, will come the next great nationalist, the next great professor or dean of law, the next great advocate, the next great litigators, the next great corporate or tax lawyers, or even the next great rebel or social gadfly or simply the quintessential UP lawyer, one who loves the people, if not the law.

Alan Dershowitz, in his Letters to a Young Lawyer, writes, “(i)f you don’t love the law, what should you love. . .? Love liberty. Love justice. Love the good that law can produce. Aspirations don’t disappoint, so long as you realize that the struggle for liberty, justice and anything else worth pursuing never stays won.”

As you temporarily step out of Malcolm Hall (because no one ever leaves Malcolm forever as little fragments of memory remain with us—be it a funny anecdote, a favorite nook in the library, a particularly detested/respected/admired professor), I congratulate you for allowing yourself to be moved by the experience of learning law and, more importantly, life in the years you spent in Malcolm Hall. May you continue loving the people whom the law seeks to serve, the very same people whose toil and tears you have shared and whose very lives have helped you to receive what many only dream of—lessons in life and law learned, grandly.

May 10, 2008

dalawang tula

nahalungkat sa baul ng ala-ala ang una,
katha ng walang magawa ang pangalawa.

ang una'y inspirasyon para sa pangalawa,
bakas sa iisang paksa.

dalawang tula, para (pa rin) sa mga nawawala.
pasensya na po at mahaba.

Ang Una...

Ang mga nawawala
Jose F. Lacaba
(mula sa Kung Baga sa Bigas, Mga Piling Tula;
U.P. Press, 2002)

Isang araw sila'y
nawala na lang at sukat.
May hindi pumasok sa opisina,
hindi sumipot sa apoyntment,
nang-indiyan ng kadeyt.
May hindi umuwi ng bahay
at hindi nakasalo
ng pamilya sa hapunan,
hindi nakasiping ng kabiyak.
Ang inihaing ulam ay ligalig,
at ang inilatag na banig
ay ayaw dalawin ng antok.

Nang hanapin sila'y
walang masabi
ang kamag-anak at kaibigan,
walang ulat ang pulisya,
walang malay ang militar.
Kung mayroon mang nakakita
nang sila'y sunggaban
ng malalaking lalaki
at isakay sa dyip o kotse,
pabulong-bulong ang saksi,
at kung pakikiusapang
tumestigo sa korte,
baka ito'y tumanggi.

Pagkaraan ng ilang araw,
o linggo, o buwan, o taon,
pagkaraan ng maraming
maghapon at magdamag,
pagkaraang ang agam-agam
ay magparoo't parito
sa mga manhid na pasilyo
at ang pag-aasam-asam
ay mapanis sa mga tanggapan,
pagkaraan ng luha't tiyaga,
ang ilan sa kanila'y
muling lumitaw.

Lumitaw sila
sa bilangguan, sa bartolina,
sa kubling bahay na imbakan
ng ungol, tili at panaghoy,
himpilan ng mga berdugong
eksperto sa sanlibo't isang
istilo ng pagpapahirap.
Lumitaw silang
bali ang buto o sira ang bait.
O kaya'y lumitaw silang
lumulutang sa mabahong ilog,
o nakahandusay sa pampang,
o umaalingasaw
sa mga libingang mababaw
na hinukay ng mga asong gala.
Lumitaw silang
may gapos ang kamay at paa
na wala nang pintig, o watak-
watak ang kamay, paa, ulo,
o tadtad ng butas ang bangkay,
likha ng bala o balaraw.

Ang iba'y hindi na lumitaw,
hindi na kailanman lumitaw,
nawala na lang at sukat,
walang labi, walang bangkay,
hindi malaman kung
buhay o patay,
hindi mapaghandugan
ng lamayan, pasiyam, luksa,
hindi maipagbabang-luksa,
hindi maipagtirik ng kandila
kung Todos los Santos.
Nakaposas pa ba sila
sa paa ng kinakalawang na kama
sa loob ng kuwartong may tanod,
busog sa bugbog,
binabagabag ng bangungot,
sumisipol kung nag-iisa
ng "Saan Ka Man Naroroon,"
iniisip kung ano ang iniisip
ng magulang at anak,
kasintahan o kabiyak?
O sila ba'y
umayaw na sa pakikibaka
at nagtaksil sa dating buhay,
at nagtatago sa takot,
o nag-asawang muli
at nangibang-bayan,
o tinamaan ng amnisya
at lalaboy-laboy sa lansangan,
o lihim na namumundok
at nag-iba ng pangalan?
O sila ba'y pinagpapasasaan na ng uod?
Nag-ugat na ba ang talahib
sa mga mata ng kanilang bungo?
Bahagi na ba sila
ng kanilang lupang tinubuan,
ang lupang kanilang ipinaglaban?

Sinusulat ko ito
para sa mga kakilalang
hanggang ngayon ay nawawala,
para kina Charlie Del Rosario
at Caloy Tayag
at Manny Yap
at Jun Flores
at Rudy Romano,
sila na kahit hindi ko
nakilala nang husto
ay alam king naglingkod
sa api at hikahos.
Buhay man sila o patay
sa aking alaala'y
mananatili silang buhay.

- oOo -

Ang pangalawa...

Ina at Anak
sa pag-alala kina Jonas, Karen, Sherlyn at
marami pang ibang nawawala ngunit
di nakakalimutan

Pinuno ang parang ng katahimikan
Ng pagtatangis ng

Tila bang panibagong Sisang

Umaasang makita muli ang
Minamahal ngunit

Pinunit ang parang ng katahimikan
Ng pagngingitngit ng

Tila bang panibagong Lorenang
Tumitindig at

Nananalig na makamit ang mithiing
Hustisya’t Katarungan
para sa nawawalang

Pinaligiran ang parang ng katahimikan
Ng alingawngaw ng

Tila pang panibagong Gabrielang
Poot ay lumalagablab at
Ngayo'y lumalaban;

Nang wala na muling mga inang
Magdadalamhati’t Maghihinagpis
para sa nawawalang


May 04, 2008

...but Samuel L. Jackson is uber, uber cool!

Now that Omar has blown the lid off the post-end credit scene of Iron Man, I can now write about it. Didn't say anything about it in the previous blog because didn't want it to be a spoiler.

BUT, YES, there will be a sequel... and it has Samuel L. Jackson in it as Nick Fury of Supreme Headquarters Intelligence Espionage-Law Enforcement Division or S.H.I.E.L.D. and he ends the movie with this..."I'd like to talk to you about the Avenger initiative."

Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine,Kelsey Grammer as Hank McCoy aka The Beast and, let's see...

Natalie Portman or Kiera Knightley as Wanda, The Scarlet Witch
Johnny Depp as Pietro or Quicksilver
Orlando Bloom as Hawkeye
Eric Bana as The Hulk
Brad Pitt as Captain America

As Stan "The Man" Lee would say, 'nuff said.

May 02, 2008

Robert Downey Jr. is the man...

... the Iron Man!

I succumbed to temptation yesterday and went to watch Iron Man, even though I was supposed to work (on Labor Day). . . and, in response to a question, "is it as good as people say it is?", YES!!!

I am biased because I've waited sometime for this one but it was worth the wait.

Robert Downey Jr. is really one of the BEST actors of his generation--demons and all. He is an incredible Tony Stark/Iron Man--funny, witty but also quite credible as the industrialist/weapons manufacturer who has an epiphany after being kidnapped and subjected to a front row view of what his weapons are actually doing. His transformation from Tony Stark--playboy industrialist--to Iron Man, with a an artificial heart that is more of flesh and blood than many others is quite good.

The effects are great--much, much better than than the Transformers; and the fight scenes are equally good. Of course, the proliferation of credible actors (Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Terence Howard) makes the film a notch higher than your usual super hero movie.

Is it as good as they say it is? it's much, much better.

Go watch it!

PS. Now, for "The Dark Knight" and JJ Abrams "Star Trek", then I'll shut up and stop raving.

I don't believe in destiny (cable) and I hate sky(cable)

... because I don't get the NBA anymore!

It's the NBA play-offs and things are really getting exciting but because Solar sports is no longer on skycable, I don't get to watch the games anymore. With the schedule I keep, the news (late news) on GMA and CNN, BBC and the NBA on solar sports are practically the only things I get to watch. . . and because sky yanked out the NBA from its line up, I don't get to watch the NBA anymore!

Good thing, I can catch up online.

PS. Go, Celtics!

April 28, 2008


Not sure if there is such a word but that's how I felt earlier when I was told that I had to make a decision that would change many things that I had planned in my life.

But as with most of the de-equilibrized moments in my life, I remembered Psalm 37:23-24-"The steps of the man are from the Lord, and he establishes him in whose way he delights; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord is the stay of his hand."

Its not a promise that I won't fall but that he will catch me when I do fall.

In the meantime, have to get back my equilibrium by focusing on what He wants me to do.

First things first, "fear not."

April 18, 2008

A blast from the past... for me, at least

"I read the news today, oh boy" (credit the Beatles for this line which I shamelessly rip off) and it spoke of the United States Supreme Court ruling 7-2 on the constitutionality of lethal injection as a method of execution for the first time; the landmark ruling is Baze v. Rees, involving a capital case from Kentucky. (Read the link to an AI-US blog, which also posts a link to the decision.)

What struck me wasn't that the US Supreme Court ruled but that it was ruling for the very first time on the constitutionality of lethal injection.

This brought me back to March 2, 1998, when, on behalf of probably my most well-known client, I filed a petition for prohibition, injunction and/or TRO assailing the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 8177 designating lethal injection as the mode of execution in the country; the petition docketed as G.R. No. 132601 was given due course and, on October 12, 1998, the Philippine Supreme Court ruled, for the first time and apparently nine (9) years before the United States, that lethal injection was, to rip off Chief Justice Fernando's famous double negative, "not unconstitutional."

What also strikes me about Baze is the obvious absence of unanimity; there are seven (7) separate opinions, with only two (2) Justices joining the Chief Justice Roberts in his plurality (if you could even call it that) opinion, three (3) Justices concurring only in the result and with separate opinions, and with two (2) Justices (Ginsberg and Souter) dissenting.

Unlike the Philippines, which has, at least for the moment, prohibited capital punishment, it appears that the debate in the United States has just gotten a lot more interesting.

April 04, 2008

Intergenerational courtesy and hubris

I did not land in the top ten when I took the bar in 1990; nor did I land in the top twenty (I know because the first 20 names in our batch were published). That does not make or unmake me, as a lawyer or as a person.

My batch did not have the benefit (or stigma?) of having our passing average adjusted upward by means of across-the-board points or having the 75% average required to pass the bar lowered or the 50% disqualification per subject lowered. That does not make or unmake my batch, as lawyers or as persons.

My having failed to land in the top 20 does not make me a success or a failure--as a lawyer or as a person. It only credentials me as one who was fortunate or blessed enough to pass, based on the standards of that year.

My batch's distinction of not having adjustments to the passing grade does not make my batch better or worse than any other batch. It just makes it a fact that no adjustments were made for that year.

The bar examinations are a test of a particular batch's entitlement to join the legal profession based on the standards of the Examination Committee for a particular year. It is not a standard for all generations, nor for all time. It is a standard only for a particular year because every year the standards change with the selection of a new Chairperson and the selection of new examiners.

Thus, one batch is not necessarily better or worse than another as each batch can only be compared to itself (if that is at all possible, factually and logically). That is the design of the bar examinations; each year's bar is sui generis. (Is this a flawed design? Yes. Would I want it changed? Yes. But that is fodder for another post, another occasion.)

So, all the buzz and the heat generated by a rather insensitive blog post by a lawyer who has yet to identify him/herself by the name he signed on the roll is quite understandably being passionately dissected by this year's bar passers.

I say it is insensitive because the post essentially blacklists this year's batch of passers and brands them as "second rate" and "unworthy" lawyers simply because the Supreme Court chose to lower the average--sight unseen. The lawyer blogger chooses to tar everyone with the same brush and writes off this year's batch as unworthy of his attention or employment.

I do not know if the blogger/lawyer (whose blog links to this site) teaches. I do. I taught this batch from U.P. And I know these people very well--personally; with the exception of a handful (and my hands are very small, so it is a very small handful), I can say at least one fact about each of them that a casual acquaintance would not know. I can speak of how good or bad they were in class and also in court, having supervised them through the clinical legal education program.

I can speak of how passionate they can get over trivial and non-trivial things. I have seen how intense they have gotten over issues. I have seen many of them in court, I have read their pleadings, I have corrected their work, I have graded them many times over. Yes, I can speak, from personal knowledge, of this batch and I choose not to write them off because I know better--than to write them off.

I only teach law at U.P. so I cannot speak, from personal knowledge, of passers from other law schools because I do not know better. And for that same reason, I choose not to write them off as unworthy or second rate simply because I also do not know better.

And that is, as De Quiros puts it, "the rub."

Blogger/lawyer chooses to write off an entire batch without knowing the ENTIRE BATCH of bar passers; s/he chooses to dismiss them without the benefit of having seen some or most of them in class or in court; s/he chooses to stigmatize the batch for something they had absolutely no hand in--the lowering of the average.

Would this batch have preferred not to have the grades lowered so that only 5% would have passed? I do not know; perhaps some would have, some wouldn't.

What I do know is that they had no hand in having the grade lowered and to stigmatize them for something the Court did, apparently motu propio, is uncalled for and is foul.

And to cast aspersions, by way of asking rhetorical questions--as blogger/lawyer does in his post, as to the supposed influence exerted by some powerful quarters is quite simply cheap. That is something gutter journalists do, in the absence of something significant to write--not one who has passed the bar and would evidently have such high standards that s/he would not hire anyone from this batch. As far as the new U.P. lawyers are concerned, it is blogger/lawyer's loss--not theirs.

I am not picking a fight with blogger/lawyer. Those who passed this year have already thrown down the gauntlet and they, more than anyone else, can speak for themselves quite eloquently and well.

I simply want to say, from the vantage point of one who passed the bar many years ago under very different conditions than this year, that it is sheer hubris and unmitigated arrogance for one to sit in judgment simply on the basis of the past and without knowing better.

Hegel (and Sting) remind us that the best lesson we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history; many times, however, when we live too much in the past and reflect too much on history, we also end up not learning anything about the present.

April 01, 2008

Weighing in on Brian Gorrell

You may recognize familiar names in this Newsbreak online article on the Brian Gorrell thingy.

March 25, 2008

Conspiracy theories and others

If I were Gloria, and I wanted to hold on to power absolutely until 2010 and shield me from the suits that will come my way in 2010, . . .

1. I would appoint Mercy Gutierrez, the gatekeeper, to the Supreme Court anytime before 2010 and appoint another equally loyal and inept classmate/friend/crony to be Ombudsman in her place; that way, I would have another vote in the Supreme Court and an Ombudsman with a 7-year term that would last beyond 2010.

2. I would do everything to cure/heal Cory Aquino of her cancer because I do not need another loooooong funeral march, in the event that Cory Aquino passes away, and I do not need another martyr that would create another genuine EDSA.

3. I would find a way to convince Chief Justice Reynato Puno to step down before May 2010--through gentle reminders, if possible, but through forceful assertion, if gentle reminders do not succeeed--and then bypass Tony Carpio, who would be the most senior Associate Justice by 2010. That way, the entire Court would be Gloria's.

4. I would make sure that the Opposition would be hopelessly divided by allowing Erap to run for President, before going to the Supreme Court to question his entitlement on the ground that the pardon extended to him is conditional and that the condition is that he does not run for election ever again. Before that, I would make sure that none of those seeking election as President would ever be united--by enticing JDV to run as President perhaps.

5. I would keep Dinky Soliman and her singing of "If we hold on together" as far away from my cabinet as possible.

6. I would make sure that I have another Arroyo in Congress, but this time in the Senate; Luli, are you there?


In a 9-6 vote, the Supreme Court, just a few minutes ago (Tuesday, March 25, 2008, 3:25 thereabouts) granted the petition of Romulo Neri, which sought the invocation of executive privilege in relation to three questions posed by the Senate, in its investigation of the botched 329US$ ZTE-NBN deal. This means that Neri cannot be cited for contempt or arrested by the Senate if he refuses to answer the three questions, which the plurality of the Court now considers to be covered by executive privilege.

The three questions are: 1. whether Gloria Arroyo followed up the deal with Neri; 2. whether he was told to prioritize the ZTE-NBN project and 3. whether Gloria Arroyo told him to go ahead with the deal after he told her about the massive bribe offer.

The decision was penned by the 2nd to the newest appointee to the Court, Teresita De Castro (of Erap plunder fame or notoriety, depending on which side you're on) and was concurred in by the following Justices: Quisumbing, Corona, Chico-Nazario, Tinga, Velasco, Nachura, Reyes, and Brion (the most recent appointee). Of those who voted in favor, only Quisumbing's vote is surprising; the others are expected as they are all Gloria appointees.

The 6 who voted against are: Chief Justice Puno (with a 100-page dissent), Justices Ynares-Santiago, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Carpio-Morales, and Azcuna.

There is a surprising lack of becoming modesty in Brion voting on a petition where he did not participate and where popular sentiment held that his appointment was precisely to forestall the effects of a Velasco inhibition. There is also an uncharacteristic lack of becoming modesty in De Castro writing for the majority, where her appointment was clearly seen as a reward for convicting Estrada.

This vote, coming on the heels of the 10-4 vote in the Chavez decision, shows just how much headway the Gloria appointees are making in controlling the court. If she lasts until 2010, Gloria Arroyo would have appointed all but one of the Justices (Puno; but she would have appointed Puno Chief Justice, so technically she could be considered to have appointed all the Justices).

How's that for separation of powers? Checks and balances, anyone?

March 06, 2008

Thanks, but no thanks.

1. Gloria throws out EO 464. Thanks, but no thanks.

There was nothing to throw out, as the Supreme Court had already removed practically everything there was to this putrid issuance from the dictator's arsenal. It should have been a non-issue except that, as dictators and their henchmen/women go, it was a convenient excuse to hide behind.

2. Supreme Court offers a compromise deal to Senate. Thanks, but no thanks.

After nine hours of orals, the Supreme Court Chief Justice offers a compromise--perceived by Malacanang to be "solomonic", which should already put you on guard--to the Senate: 1. Neri will testify at the Senate, 2. he will not be arrested anymore, 3. but the three questions he had invoked "executive privilege" against will not be asked anymore and will be considered asked, and 4. each and every time he invokes executive privilege, the issue will be tossed back to the Court.

My first reaction was that it was a "cop out" by the Court, after strong decisions on press freedom and showing strong resolve against EJK and ED with amparo and habeas data. Later on, after speaking with very reliable sources, it made sense--though I still didn't agree with the compromise; my sources told me that the CJ and Justice Carpio felt outvoted by the Gloria people in the Court and feared a loss had they insisted on a decision--so to avoid a loss, the CJ offered the compromise. One step backward, two steps forward--was it Lenin who said this, or Tommy Manotoc? Yes, it made sense but it still left me with a bad taste in the mouth.

If the Senate approved the deal, Gloria wins, hands down and the Senate loses, big time. The power of the Senate to summon witnesses would be severely impaired and the dictator gets away with silence on the three questions that directly place the ZTE deal at her doorstep.

I am glad that the Senate FINALLY acquired a collective spine (did that include you, Joker?) and some collective sense of identity and history and said, "thanks, but no thanks." I hope the SC addresses this issue and, despite the lifting of E0 464, rules that its invocation under those circumstances was not proper and that Neri SHOULD answer those 3 questions.

3. Let's resume our lives now that EO 464 is gone. THANKS, BUT NO THANKS.

The Bishops of my church should come out now with a stronger statement; clearly, the truth is being held hostage here and instead of setting us free, it is, instead, rendered an instrument of keeping us in bondage. Now that 464 is gone, what now? Perhaps, the answer should be, Gloria, gone.

March 04, 2008

It sounds greek to me, again

It's all the rage now, at least in law school. Everyone's talking about it--the photos in an anonymously-sent link of a crime being perpetrated in the name of brotherhood. Of course, I'm speaking of the hazing photos.

One anonymous commentor on my blog asked if I could do something about it. I am flattered and honored that s/he would think I could do anything about it.

My position on frats and frat violence is clear and unchanged. I do not intend to write about that here, now. Let me simply assure those who read this blog and know my position on fraternities and fraternity violence that, yes, something is being done about it by the officials with both mandate and power. While it may seem that nothing official is being done about it, I know, personally, that, yes, something is being done about it--it is just a matter of the proper time and place and forum.

In the meantime, for those identified and identifiable in the photographs, it is not too late to repent.

March 03, 2008

two from the good old 80s

Those who experienced martial law and read my blog will recognize these two songs; they may even have sung them and had lives changed because of them. They are not, by any means, the best anthems of protest (there are many) but they were, for a time, the songs of a generation who lived under the heavy onus of a dictatorship.

Many lives were changed because of the words of these two songs; I know mine was.

(pete lacaba/ding achacoso)
hango sa "Sister Stella L." (1984)

walang komplikasyon sa buhay mo noon
kalooban mo'y panatag,
kalangitan ay maliwanag
ang daan ay tuwid at patag
sa buhay mo noon.

ngunit bawat pusong naglalakbay
dumarating sa sangandaan
ngayong narito ka,
kailangang magpasya
aling landas ang susundin ng puso?
saan ka liligaya?
saan mabibigo?
saan ka tutungo?

kay daling sumunod sa hangin at agos
aasa ka na ang dalangin
gagabay sa 'yong damdamin
ngunit saan ka dadalhin
ng hangin at agos?

alam mong bawat pusong nagmamahal
dumarating sa sangandaan
ngayong narito ka,
kailangang magpasya
aling landas ang susundin ng puso?
saan ka liligaya?
saan mabibigo?
saan ka tutungo?

Awit ng petiburgis
(rene agbayani)

Buhay na nagisnan puno ng ginhawa
Buhay na kumupkop,
hindi yata makakayang iwan
Buhay na kay hirap,
bagay na di ganap
Bukas o nakaraan, saan nga ba ang patutunguhan?

May panahong magdudat’t magtanong
Ngayon ay panahon ng pagharap at pagsulong
Pagtatanong ay ‘wag lubayan
Tunggalian ay walang katapusan

Aking mga mata malinaw ang nakita
Luha ng kapatid dusa na di mapapatid
Diwa ay natalos, humayo at kumilos
Tawag ng pangangailangan ay di matatalikuran

At ang bisig ko’y handa na ngayon
At makakayang iwan ang noon

In these days of Jun Lozada and JDV3, there is a need for conscientization and politicization. In these times when people's choices are governed by "I'd rather not ask for resignation because I don't want Noli", there is a need to encourage people to take a long, hard look at the choices that face all of us.

Standing at our crossroads, each must make a choice and stand by it.

For my generation, our crossroads was highlighted by the heady days of the post-Aquino assassination and EDSA 1. These were two of the anthems of those days.

Perhaps the EDSA dos babies need to hear these words from these anthems--that we may make a choice and stand by it.

March 01, 2008


Gloria will not resign. . . willingly, that is. The shrewd trapo that she is, she will not leave the stage she took from Estrada in 2001 without options to protect her. . . and possibly her husband; I'm not really convinced yet that she wouldn't abandon Mike A if push comes to shove.


Many have been asking about options under the Constitution now that Atty. Lozano and that huge kennel at Commonwealth have totally made impeachment a travesty and a joke. Some that immediately come to mind, not necessarily in order of priority or doability:

1. Resignation (Art. VII, sec. 8)
2. Removal from office (Art. VII, sec. 8), possibly through, but not necessarily limited to, impeachment
3. Voluntary declaration by President of inability to discharge the functions of office (Art. VII, sec. 11)
4. Cabinet action through majority vote (Art. VII, sec. 11)

Section11 is what the Hyatt 10 tried and failed to do.

Sec. 11 provides: "

"Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President.

Whenever a majority of all the Members of the Cabinet transmit to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice-President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall reassume the powers and duties of his office. Meanwhile, should a majority of all the Members of the Cabinet transmit within five days to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Congress shall decide the issue. For that purpose, the Congress shall convene, if it is not in session, within forty-eight hours, in accordance with its rules and without need of call.

If the Congress, within ten days after receipt of the last written declaration, or, if not in session, within twelve days after it is required to assemble, determines by a two-thirds vote of both Houses, voting separately, that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice-President shall act as President; otherwise, the President shall continue exercising the powers and duties of his office."

Notably this was also what Erap tried to do before he left the Palace except that it was probably an afterthought.

A voluntary declaration that the President is unable to discharge his office under sec. 11 might be the best option for Gloria; on the other hand, if she refuses to do this, her cabinet might be encouraged to do this--similar to what the Hyatt 10 tried but failed to do.


What can Gloria be waiting for, many have asked-- a deal, perhaps.

A deal to shield her from any suits (again, Mike A might be incidental to the deal, she probably might just be looking to save herself.) might be what will convince her to just "cut and cut clean."

Its a difficult decision: kick her out but at the same time, not prosecute her. Hmmm, have to think about that.

February 21, 2008

I have no words . . .

. . . to describe just how disappointing it is that some faculty members (I won't name names here because my source will get into trouble) and students of the law school choose to nitpick instead of 1) being constructive or 2) simply getting out of the way. (For perspective, go to Lobit's multiply site for her text exchange presumably with some student who, to her credit, she does not identify; for perspective on the faculty member/s, let us just say that media friends have been houding me for comment on what they have been saying.)

Yesterday, the Dean and some members of the faculty and students issued a statement that was carried over the media. It was deliberately sub-titled "A Statement from the UP Law Community" NOT "An OFFICIAL Statement of the UP Law FACULTY AND STUDENTS" or "An OFFICIAL Statement of UP LAW." To my mind, "community" means a group of people united by some principle or purpose; and those who signed the statement were.

Some have said we should have deliberated--we did.

Was everyone invited? Yes.

But not everyone invited chose to go. And I respect that; I respect your silence on the matter--but I would ask that you respect as well the sentiments of those who chose to participate and sign.

I have my first draft which is radically different from the one that came out to show just how deliberated upon the statement was. Truthfully, and the Dean and the others who were there will tell you--I do not completely agree with everything there. For instance, if that were my statement, it would consist only of the following words--'GLORIA, GET OUT--NOW!!!" But I was writing for a community and, therefore, my own thoughts and opinions and even style of writing would have to be subordinated to what the others felt they wanted.

Were contrary opinions entertained? Yes. I have always held the belief that the Senate investigations have outlived their purpose and should be terminated with dispatch; many who were around did not. So, I respected that and did not put that in the final draft that appeared.

Why did I sign it if it did not exactly reflect what I believed in? Because I believed it was time for UP Law to speak up and because it contained the essential points I wanted said--Gloria must go. Everything else in the statement was a means toward that end.

It is frustrating to see us fighting each other instead of the common enemy right now. That, by itself, is a victory for Gloria and Mike Arroyo and their minions.

Unity cannot be legislated or forced because many times egos get in the way. Would that we were to once again remember what it is that is truly important to us and not be weighed down by minor details like "why call it a law community statement if it did not reflect a majority view?" or even more minor details like "who gets the credit?" or "whose turn is it before the camera?" But I think that might be an even more difficult task than to get Gloria out.

February 19, 2008

unmarketable, unbelievable

Many things have been said about Jun Lozada, or J Lo as Chel puts it in sms shorthand, but one thing nonetheless strikes me about this whole affair--the extent to which the palace spinmeisters have gone on overdrive. Haven't they heard of the adage, "where there's smoke, there's fire?" They're the ones fanning the flames by their lame denials and spin.

Two things should have been immediate in the spin control:
1. Gloria speaks.
2. Mike speaks.

The thing with spinmeisters (even with one as pleasant-sounding and easy on the eyes as USEC Lorelei Fajardo) is that people know they are reading from a script or a marketing plan and that they are basically sales personnel. The product ought to speak for itself.

Except if the product is so unmarketable that no one would buy it if it were left to market itself.


Nonetheless, we must be thankful for small favors:
1. Raul Gonzalez muzzled and leashed.
2. Sergio Apostol muzzled.
3. Cerge Remonde muzzled.

Perhaps it would not be too much to ask that Ricardo Saludo be muzzled as well. Let Toting Bunye (he of the "this is the original Garci tape" fame or notoriety) earn his keep.


Now if we could also get the lawyers--from both sides--to shut up. Regular readers will know who I'm referring to.

February 12, 2008


1. Pathetic is how I would describe Sergio Apostol's attempt at a witty riposte to Jun Lozada's emotion-filled revelations ("They say he's a probinsyanong intsik. Bagay sa 'yo i-deport ka. Magulo ka dito.).

For crying out loud, he's Gloria Arroyo's Chief Legal Adviser. He should know that you can't deport a filipino citizen even if that person claims chinese lineage.

Now, who's causing trouble? Certainly not Jun Lozada, who was abducted at the airport by Gloria's and Mike Arroyo's minion, thereby causing a huge black eye to the country.

Apostol should know better than to attempt a quick riposte, he, of the thick tongue and even thicker brogue(remember his immortal "Madame Wetness"); but I guess he felt he had to beat the other old P.OM. (Pathetic Old Ma) in the cabinet, Raul Gonzalez, to the punch. Gonzalez is probably laughing his head off.

2. Craven is how I would describe Joker Arroyo attitude against anyone who would dare to sully the name of his benefactor, or leash holder. Remember, he ran as the sole KAMPI candidate in the last elections. Certainly, all that money should count for something. At least Judas got only thirty pieces of silver and heeded his conscience by choosing to go to the nearest tree.

Asinine is how I would describe Joker's rants against Lozada's relatives' use of the writs of habeas corpus and amparo. In the first place, why is he pissed off at Lozada who didn't file it and was the subject of those writs? As one who filed many a petition before, Joker should know that; I guess he has many reasons now to forget about those good old days, when his voice was raised in righteous indignation, and not today when his voice is just raised, period.

3. Offensive is how I would describe Lito Atienza's inept justifications at how he tried to protect Lozada. I stop here before I say anything truly libelous.

February 05, 2008

Zamora's Pox

Kennel News.
One good thing that came out of the nominal voting last night and early morning on the replacement of JDV as speaker with the favored pup, Nograles, was that I got to listen to the oratory of some of those who bothered to explain their votes.

Annie Susano of QC was totally a wreck, as in, you could not understand a thing she was saying. Erin Tanada at least tried to explain why he voted yes and gave a very clear explanation of the principles he stood for. Darlene Custodio is slowly gaining a reputation as someone who speaks well, at least the few times I've heard her speak.

But among those who stood out--good or bad:

1. Salvador Escudero, in his warning to Nograles to read the transcript fo the speeches and find out what exactly it is the members of the kennel, este, the house, are saying as they abandon JDV.
2. Lanie Cayetano, who was candid enough to say that it was all because JDV did not give Taguig Pateros any money.
3. Migs Zubiri's brother (sorry dont know his name), who quoted Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet as a riposte to Ronnie Zamora; how many Congressmen can quote Shakespeare from memory or on short notice? That much, I have to give him, even if he is Migs Zubiri's bro.

But the one memorable line that stood out- Ronnie Zamora saying, quoting Romeo and Juliet, "a pox on both your houses." Indeed.

Perhaps the best unspoken line might have belonged to JDV, again quoting Shakespeare but this time Julius Caesar, "Et tu, Boy?"

"How much are those doggies in the window?"

I did not want to dignify the travesty perpetuated by the Arroyos in the House--Mikey and Dato, in collaboration with their uncle Iggy and their parents, Mike and Gloria, and of course let's not forget the always righteously indignant Luli--simply because JDV is not my favorite person. He ranks just slightly lower than Gloria, who ranks lower than athlete's foot, which is tied with diarrhea, in my list of favorite things.

So, I will just say this--for all the talk about change in the House and the independence of that chamber, what happened last night and all the way till early morning simply cemented the one fact the people already know--the house of representatives is nothing but a stamp pad for Gloria's malacanang, with his two sons as the attack dogs and nograles now as the favorite pup (of course, he was Mike Arroyo's law school classmate).

With apologies to Patti Page, the question really boils down to this--how much are those puppies?

To their credit, not a few congressmen and congresswomen were candid enough to say that it was because of the money. It was those who tried to justify what they were doing that really almost made me vomit.

From now on, the House of Representatives is just simply the biggest kennel in the country. Of course, the Senate is no better, but at least its just the noisiest circus in town.

Rant over. Back to work.

January 21, 2008


Ang pagkitil ng kalayaan sa
paanan ng tulay na ngayo'y
ipinangalan sa isang dakilang
mandirigma para sa kalayaan pero
noo'y kilala lamang sa isang salita--

Ang walang patumanggang karahasan
na sumalubong sa daan-daang

magbubukid na nagmartsa patungo
sa paanan ng tulay na noo'y kilala lamang
sa isang pangalan--Mendiola.

Ang daan-daang sugatan at ang
13 patay sa paanan ng tulay--
na syang sagisag at naging simbolo
ng lahat ng kalayaan na nakamit
matapos mapatumba

ang diktadura--ng Mendiola.

Enero 22, 1987.
13 patay, higit isandaan sugatan,
sa duguang kamay ng isang
pamahalaang itinayo at itinatag sa
pangako ng kalayaan at katarungan,
sa paanan ng tulay ng Mendiola.

Enero 22, 1987.
Masaker ng kalayaan at katarungan
sa paanan
ng tulay ng Mendiola.

Deleting history

Seen on a shirt: "Itanong mo sa akin ano ang maganda sa Pilipinas?" (front) "Gloria, resign!" (back)
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo says now that there is no reason to celebrate EDSA Dos and orders that no celebrations be held because she wants to heal the hurts. Just like that. EDSA Dos officially enters the dustbin of history.

Never mind that it was actually the first successful coup d'etat in Philippine history.

Never mind that when it was happening, Gloria and her minions asked the people to flex their power to support her.

Never mind that it was because of EDSA Dos that she was catapulted to power.

Never mind all that, mind only that she now says it shouldn't be celebrated or remembered.

It is as if by saying that, she can delete history and make us forget.

But, no, we will not forget how Gloria came to power, on the wings of a coup; and, no, we will not forget how Gloria maintained power, on the wings of fraud.

Though you delete history, we will not forget and we will not let you forget.

January 15, 2008

Questions I find myself asking . . .

1. What do you call an ELEVATOR when it is going down?
2. What do you call an ESCALATOR when it is going down?
3. If you only have one leg, do you wear PANT or still pants?
4. If you only have one eye, do you wear A GLASS or still glasses?
5. If there is only one item, is it NEW or still news?

Wala lang, naisip ko lang.

Fr. Honti, S.J.

Good news travels fast, bad news even faster.

While at a meeting, I got texts trying to confirm if it was true that Fr. Eddie Hontiveros, S.J., Father of Philippine Liturgical Music, passed away today. I replied that I hadn't heard; since there was wifi at the place, I did what I usually do when I need news--google. I managed to confirm that, yes, Fr. Hontiveros had passed away. Here is the link to his obit.

I never got to know him personally but growing up, literally with his songs while serving at 6 am mass in high school and later on listening to his "classics" amidst the more contemporary Jesuit music, it seemed like I, and countless others who prayed to his music, knew him very well indeed. His songs had sing-ability, which counted for the great mass appeal and the easy recall; his lyrics, however, were also quite spectacular. His Filipino was very elegant and I can say I, literally, learned how to pray in Filipino because of Fr. Honti.

He will be missed but this much I know, his songs will continue to fill many a church and many a heart--bringing the faithful so much closer to God each time.

January 10, 2008

Kulang Kung Wala Sila

UP kicked off its centennial celebration on January 8 with a 100-torch relay (that's including Richard Gomez) led by a 100 year old engineer (who sounds less senile than a lot of younger alumni and who displays a great wit and sense of humor in thinking that he could hook up with his classmates; LOL), sky divers, 100 kwitis salute, bogas thundering, the lighting of 100 acacia trees and the lighting of the centennial cauldron (shades of HP and the Goblet of Fire, he he he). The night was capped by a concert led by Ryan Cayabyab and various bands and a 15 or so minute fireworks display (courtesy of Beta Epsilon).

Astig! Galing! Kewl! Pero, may kulang . . .

Since the centennial preparations kicked off, I'd been thinking about this (and apparently I wasn't alone)-- it would be a really great idea to have the most famous luntian at pula band play. Of course, anyone who has been to UP or has lived within the last twenty or so years knows that I'm referring to the 'Heads, the Eraserheads, to be exact--Ely, Marcus, Raimund and Buddy. The only hitch was that they had disbanded some time back and had gone on to individual pursuits (all of them with their own bands; some producing, all still writing music).

While we were waiting for the centennial cauldron to be lit, I was expressing that hope to the law school staff-- it would have been awesome had the boys been asked to play again, maybe for one last gig--the first and probably the last! It would have been similar to a Beatles reunion. But as the night wore on, it was not to be; I don't know if it was because no one from the centennial preparations team thought of it (or had even heard of the 'Heads) or maybe if they had thought of it, they couldn't get them together, or had lost their numbers in their rolodexes or what. But, hey, they got a 100 year old graduate to come and run the torch relay; they even got Richard Gomez to light a torch (how bogus is that?). Of course, they could get the boys back together again--for U.P., if not for anything else?

Jam is right--it would have been perfect as the kick off--for the 'Heads to sing their songs that are full of UP flavor; it would also have been a perfect tribute to a band that managed to blow the lid off the local band scene at that time and influence the local band scene for generations to come.

I remember watching them at Red Rocks (along Scout Tobias), later to become Club Dredd, when they were really struggling; barely able to play but already armed with the charm that was to become their signature. Ely's songs were already unmistakeable and the attitude was totally radical. It didn't matter then that they weren't the best musicians in the planet or that Ely wasn't the best singer, it mattered only that they were singing about things they knew in a manner that they knew about. That was what the 'Heads brought into the scene; and, of course, we (who were then following them) were proud to say, "UP 'yan!"

Listen to any of the local bands that came after them and catch the hooks of the "heads in their songs; watch the bands and see the attitude that these four put on.

The centennial tag line is "UP, ang galing mo!" Very apt indeed for the boys who simply wanted to play and sing their own songs, reflective of countless generations of iskolar ng bayan who simply forged ahead, fueled by their dreams of making a difference for their country and their people and, in the process, making an impact, influencing lives, thought and action by simply being who they were trained to be: UP graduates.

The centennial celebrations just kicked off, so there still is time.

Let me be the first to ask for it then in writing--BRING THE BOYS BACK!!! Let's have the Eraserheads reunite for one last gig (proceeds to go to endowment for the Narra residence hall restoration, he he he; Dan Calica, are you reading this? Popo Lotilla? Pete Abinales?)

Maybe Jam or others who know the 'Heads, wherever they are, can circulate this until it reaches them.

One more gig! Sa harap ni Oble--promise, ipasasara natin ang U Av at ipapasuspindi ng maaga ni Chancellor (kung sino man ang Chancellor ng Diliman sa pagtatapos ng centennial year) ang klase nang makakuha ng magandang pwesto--sabay sabay nating kantahin ang 'Pare Ko--kasama ang mura. At baka pwede nyo rin kantahin ang UP Naming Mahal--pero walang mura.

January 08, 2008

Giving 5.0s (a reply of sorts to Jobert Navallo)

A former student of mine (Crim Law 1, first year) Jobert Navallo blogged about this in his blog (and it was reprinted in PDI's Youngblood today); this, referring to getting a failing grade in law school. The big five dot zero.

I read Jobert's post with great interest because, of course, I know him--having been his professor in crim law--and also because it was a brave post--because the professor might still be his professor in the very same subject next year. For the civilians (read: non UP law students), getting a 5.0 and writing about it might not seem like too much of a big deal but if you've been following events in THE law school (for the ateneans and the other law schools, sorry) in this blog and others related to it, you will realize that it is not easy to write about law school especially when you do not mince words. My posts on the deanship selection have grown legs while my rants on frat violence have taken on separate lives in cyberspace. It is in this context that I say that Jobert's post is quite brave; it also has the feature of being very well-written and also very sincere--from the gut (as I texted someone).

I never got a 5.0 in law school so I cannot relate to Jobert's experience--not to say that my grades were all extremely high though. I have, however, given 5.0s and it is not an easy experience--until now, I find it extremely difficult--actually painful--to do.

The very first five I gave was during my second year of teaching to someone who never showed up in class and when he did, answered so unintelligibly that he could have been speaking in a foreign language. In his finals, his answers were the written equivalent of grunts--such was the brevity and the paucity of the answers. To my knowledge, he never made it beyond first year, at least in U.P.; he may have gone to some other law school though and may be grunting his way through law practice for all I know. Even then, it was difficult for me to give a 5.0 but no amount of massaging the raw scores could bring the grade to a 4.0 or even a 3.0.

You would have expected that, after the first five, it would become easier. It has not. For my students who read this blog, it may sound difficult to believe but giving a 5.0 has not become easier for me, but harder. But unfortunately, I have given many 5.0s since that time, each one being more difficult than the previous.

The staff at the Secretary's Office know this: when I give my grade sheets, all the grades are filled in except for those who fall below 3.0; and I take time before I decide to circle in the 5.0. Many times, I've recomputed on the spot; rechecked, redistributed points in the hope that 1 or 2 more points could help. But many times also, these efforts prove fruitless. And so, despite the difficulty, I am left with no choice but to give the 5.0.

I do not know about other professors but it pains me to give a 5.0 to someone because to me, it signifies a total disconnect between myself and that person. I see it as a failure on my part to bring across a point which the others in the class were able to see; a failure to move someone to read more, study more, read more carefully, think better, think more critically. Many times, the chore of correcting blue books becomes even more difficult when you read from the answers given a clear disconnect, a failure of minds to meet, an absence of that confluence of thoughts from teacher to student. That 5.0, to me, represents one more aspect of failure: mine.

It may be small comfort to those who have failed subjects under me or to Jobert, who failed his nego class. But Jobert is right, there is life after a 5.0; many times, that 5.0 is a reality check. Many have left law school after a 5.0 convinced that it is only passion that they have and not skill; others have struggled through after a 5.0 borne by the passion that the day will not be lost at the hands of "such as you"; others have continued in law school and even excelled after a 5.0, convinced that whatever does not kill you, at first, can only make you stronger.

It is like Kingsfield in The Paper Chase telling Hart, who tells him to his face, "Kingsfield, you are a son of a bitch", to "sit down, Mr. Hart, that is the most intelligent thing you have ever said in this class." In his blog, Jobert resolved to not only confront his Kingsfield but conquer it. That is an admirable quality. Whether he succeeds or not, often it is enough that he tries.